Celebrities beg judge for leniency on lying Jussie Smollett

Laurel Duggan, DCNF

Celebrities are begging a judge to give Jussie Smollett, an actor who was convicted of charges related to engineering a 2019 hate crime hoax, a lenient sentence.

Smollett was convicted in December 2021 of crimes related to orchestrating a fake racist attack with the help of two staff members at “Empire,” a show in which Smollett starred. He claimed attackers had put a noose around his neck, thrown bleach at him and called him racist and homophobic slurs.

Numerous prominent Democrats condemned the incident as a hate crime, including then-California Sen. Kamala Harris, who called the event a “modern day lynching.”

Support for Smollett continued even after his guilty verdict in December, with several celebrities urging Judge James B. Linn to give Smollett a lenient sentence, according to The New York Times.

Samuel L. Jackson asked the judge for “mercy” and said he and his wife had known Smollett for years through charitable work, according to the NYT. Derrick Johnson, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), also reportedly came to Smollett’s defense in a letter to the judge.

Celebrity Rev. Jesse Jackson expressed concern for Smollett’s safety in prison, describing the actor as a “well-known, nonviolent, Black, gay man with Jewish heritage,” the NYT reported.

While Smollett faces a maximum of three years in prison, his supporters urged the judge to instead sentence Smollett to community service and probation, the NYT reported. His sentencing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

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